MECHANICSVILLE, Va. – Senior captain Lindsey Oremus finished in the top 25 to lead the Saint Joseph's women's cross country squad to a 10th-place team finish in a field of 14 at the 2018 Atlantic 10 Women's Cross Country Championship, held at Pole Green Park on Saturday morning. The Hawks totaled 209 points on the day.
"Despite the fact that we finished 10th, we still had some very strong individual performances from Lindsey [Oremus], Elaine [Estes], Emily [Schaeffer], and Sara [Rankin]," said fourth-year head coach Melody O'Reilly. "I'm confident in the team we'll take to the regional meet."
"The entire team, and our coach, wanted to be a lot further up than 10th," said Oremus. "But you can't help how the rest of the field does, and there were extraordinary performances in this conference today."
Oremus ran 18:04.7 for 5k to place 25th in the field of 130 individuals. The senior edged out Dayton's Allison Triskett and Kelly Wilker to round out the top 25 in her final collegiate cross country league meet. The performance marks the third time in four opportunities that she finished in the conference's top 25, also placing 11th in 2016 and 22nd in 2015.
As was the game plan, senior captains Elaine Estes (18:19.3 PR) and Lucy Harmon (18:27.0) followed suit, crossing in 35th and 44th, respectively; Estes crushed her 5k PR by 40 seconds and improved 25 places from the first 1.6k while Harmon raced strongly in her Pole Green Park debut.
An absolute standout performance on an individual level, junior Emily Schaeffer finished as SJU's #4 runner, her highest spot in SJU's rotation this year, in 18:29.5 for 46th overall. The time marks a new PR for the junior by over an entire minute. Positioned 67th after the first 1.6k, Schaeffer moved up 16 spots by the 3.4k mark and another five spots for the top-50 finish.
Junior Emily Bracken closed out the Hawks' scoring unit in 61st, crossing the finish line in 18:45.5.
SJU's #6 and #7 finishers came through the finish line with fire in their eyes, picking off numerous racers as they both accelerated through the finish line; senior Sara Rankin went 19:07.1 (81st) in her Pole Green Park debut, an improvement on her 5k PR by 47 seconds, while senior captain Britton Gagliardi went 19:19.9 (90th) and picked off 12 competitors between the 3.4k mark and finish line.
"Our top four came in strong," said Oremus. "We were really together, which was the plan going in. Going into regionals, we need to work on getting that 5-6-7 right up with us, and I think we can turn around and do it."
Rookies Emily Dunn (19:24.8 PR, 96th) and Gabriella Bamford (19:36.8 PR, 103rd) and junior Rose Barrett (19:44.6 PR, 108th) closed out SJU's championship roster, with freshmen Dunn and Bamford racing their first collegiate 5ks.
Saint Joseph's returns to action at the 2018 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship on Friday, November 9. The 6k race is set for noon at Penn State University's Blue-White Golf Course in University Park, Pa. The top two teams receive automatic qualification for the 2018 NCAA Championship on November 17.